Satie - Gymnopedie No 3 - Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategies

Take into account your students' preferred learning styles!

Different students have preferred learning styles and we should know what these are so that we can teach that student most effectively. The most relevant preferred learning styles for the pianist are:

(i) Kinaesthetic - these students will prefer to learn by 'finger memory' of melodic and chord shapes and they will probably be good at this way of memorisation.

(ii) Visual - these students will prefer to learn by looking at the shapes that the music makes on the keys and they will probably be good sight readers. They may also find it easy to see the score as a visual representation of the piano keyboard.

(iii) Aural - these students will prefer to learn by remembering how the music sounded. They may like to learn by rote more than by reading music and they will probably be good at memorising.

(iv) Combination learners - these students will be able to draw on a two or more of the above learning styles. Most people seem, in fact, to use more than one learning style.

Be a creative teacher!

Begin teaching a piece by focusing on an aspect of it that resonates with the individual student's preferred learning style.

For example, when beginning Satie's Gymnopedie III, consistently using the Left Hand finger pattern 5-3-1 for root position chords (like A-C-E) and first inversion chords (like C-E-A), but using fingers 5-2-1 for second inversion chords (like A-D-F) can be of enormous help to kinaesthetic learners in achieving accuracy.

Visual learners will be guided by how the patterns look on the keys compared with the notes in the score and if they are kinaesthetic learners too, they will become able to relate the feel of the hand position to the chord sequence to be memorised.

Aural learners will benefit most from remembering the sound of the chords. It is a useful and highly relevant exercise in aural development to encourage the student to hear whether the root (the A in chord A minor) is at the bottom, in the middle or at the top of the chord. Hearing this detail provides a quick accuracy check.

We should also develop students' learning capacity in the ways that do not come to them so readily. If we know a student is probably going to learn pieces more by rote than by reading the notation, we should be positive about that student's memorising abilities, whilst also encouraging better music reading by regularly providing easier sight reading opportunities.

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